All parents strive to teach their children to be independent in various ways. Some send their children to boarding school or to college in another city or abroad, others try to help their children achieve independence by slowly giving them responsibilities and helping them fulfill them. Yet, how many of us have thought of teaching our children cooking as a means of helping to make them more independent?
Parents often teach their daughters cooking because they still believe this is more of a woman's job and that a woman will have to cook when she gets married and starts a family. Although teaching your daughter cooking is definitely a step in the right direction, try not to emphasise on it being a woman's job, or that cooking for her family will play a more important role than any career she may take up. Do leave this choice up to her. It is possible that she gets married to a man who respects and admires career women, and would want his wife to be a corporate achiever rather than a housewife. If you bring her up in a very traditional environment you may regret doing so later. Many women also climb high up the corporate ladder before settling down, having children and giving up their jobs. So when you teach her cooking, don't do so with the intention of turning her into a housewife and making her dependent. Instead, do so with the opposite intention in mind - of making her independent - so she doesn't need to depend on maids or outdoor catering to fulfill her nutritional needs.
Similarly, don't neglect teaching your sons cooking. Cooking is certainly not just a woman's job - as has been proved time and again by the fact that many of the world's best chefs are men - and many great cooks own fantastically successful restaurants around the world. Also, men tend to be passionate about food, and by teaching your son cooking he will be able to whip up his favourite meal without waiting for someone else to come and cook for him.
Mothers often overlook the fact that it is very possible their sons or daughters go abroad to study, or may settle abroad, where they may not be surrounded by maids who will jump to do their every bidding. In such a case, your children will be at loose ends. Yes, they will learn when they have to, but it would help so much more if you teach them when you are around and they can learn with your guidance. Otherwise don't be surprised if you spend most of your time constantly emailing, faxing or dictating recipes to your children halfway across the country - or world. Your children will then proceed to burn everything they try their hand at, lose heart a number of times, before finally mastering the art - and perhaps surpassing their master! But if you teach them now, you may spare them some heartache and a lot of hard work, later on.
Don't force your children if they are absolutely against cooking, but if you do find that they are open minded but perhaps just a little lazy, encourage your son and daughter to enter the kitchen more often. And if your son mocks cooking as being woman's work, do him a favour, and discredit this notion at the outset.